In my 43 years on Cape Cod, the holiday season has always been my favorite time. My husband, Bob, and I love the village strolls. In fact, the Dennis Christmas Stroll is Sunday. Oh – it cannot be missed. Shops are open and have appetizers and desserts. Insider tip: the Borsari Gallery has amazing hors d'oeuvres.

All along Route 6A, strollers will be in their Christmas finest. Every year, we ride in the horse-drawn carriage where the passengers sing Christmas carols.

But here’s the thing. The Cape’s celebrations cannot be compared to my growing up Jewish in Baltimore where the closest thing to Santa Claus was my Orthodox rabbi – who was anything but jolly.

“Ma,” I said when I was about nine and had a mature command of English, “Christian kids get a copious number of presents, but for Chanukah, we only get one single solitary present.”

She basted her brisket.

“Saura Leah (my Hebrew name), what’s important is the meaning of Chanukah, not the presents.”

“Mamelah, the Torah specifically says, ‘Thou shall give oodles of presents.’”

She added raisins to her kugel (noodle casserole). “My shayna maideleh (pretty girl), Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.”

“Why not? Jesus was Jewish.”

Whenever she didn’t have an answer, she’d say, “Ask your father.” So I did – but in a slightly different way.

“Tatelah, Mom said I should get lots of presents for Chanukah.”

He was in his leather chair.

“Christian kids get Christmas cookies, all decorated and everything. What do we get? Chopped liver, Dad. I’m serious.”

He lit his pipe.

“They eat lobster. We’re stuck with bottled gefilte fish. It looks like the fish is suspended in embalming fluid.”

“You don’t kvetch about Bubbe’s (Grandma’s) fried potato latkes.”

He had a point, there.

“You know, Dad, everybody on earth has a Christmas tree. What do we have? A candleholder.”

“The menorah represents an important time in our history.”

“A Christmas tree,” I lied, “represents peace on earth as well as the spirit of giving unto others, you know – like giving somebody a new Barbie doll.”

“My little maven, you have a clever way with words.”

Mom came to sit with Dad.

“Folks, I am very concerned about the paucity of holiday lights. We have none, zero, zilch. And Chanukah is the Festival of Lights. Man oh man, talk about a misnomer.”

I stood with my arms crossed. “Christian kids get special presents, like Lionel trains or View-Masters. We get a dreidel (wooden spinning top) that nobody in this universe has ever, in their entire lives, wanted to play with!”

They were both laughing. I was not.

“They even hang their socks, and believe it or not, fill them with presents!”

I then declared, “You got to face reality here. Christians have it made in the shade. We Jewish people are meshuganeh (crazy).”

And so, the great Judeo-Christian debate ended with one concession. Mom drove me far outside our area so I could see Christmas lights.

Although the brightly lit scenery was gorgeous, it was nothing compared to the decorated stately homes right here on Cape Cod’s Route 6A. All over the country, and maybe the world, people dream of the holidays in New England.

My youthful days seem in contrast to our Cape scenes of carolers and Christmas trees. I’ll tell you though; there’s no difference. I define community as simply a group of people. Communities can be inclusive or exclusive. Here, the holidays don’t stand for either Christians or Jews. They stand for all.

Cape Codders get that.

Award-winning columnist Saralee Perel can be reached at sperel@saraleeperel.com or via her website: www.SaraleePerel.com. Her column runs the first Friday of each month.